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Eating in Brazil

4 September 2010 // Filed under Arts + Brazil + Culinary + Posts + Trips

Brazil has to be the first country I have traveled where the food can be defined by a nationality. This is not to say that all Brazilian food is the same, as dishes vary from region-to-region and even from kitchen-to-kitchen.

A buffet served by weight (por kilo) is the most common way to experience regional cuisine, in my case the cuisine of Sao Paulo state. Besides the staple rice, beans, and farofa, one is sure to find mayonnaise-based salads, beets, fried bananas, mandioca, palmito, roasted meats (carne assado), and bottles of local spring water or guarana soda. Pictured below is a buffet at a roadside park and petting zoo near Sao Sabestaio that served roasted pig, fish, and beef. A little disconcerting to see the pig in its holistic state.

There are few aspects of the Brazilian culinary experience that I dislike and many more that I wish to integrate into my cooking repertoire. Of these there are a few that I can not replicate due to the restraints of products or equipment necessary to concoct them.

Chopp

This has to be one of my favorite beers. Arriving in the country with the Portuguese Royal Family, it was consumption was originally limited to the court. It was not until massive European immigration in the early 19th century that the beverage received widespread notoriety.

There are two types of this unpasturized draft beer served under high pressure, obscuro (dark lager) and claro (a light lager). The pints pictured below display chopp obscuro, a dark brown beer with a low alcohol content of 5%. The large head in the image does not represent the correct proportions, as this was just poured (in truth it represents 15% of the pint). Children as said to love when their parents pass over this sub-zero, normally kept between -4 and -8 degrees celsius, beverage.

Pastel

If there is a fryer you're sure to find pasteis. Derived from the Chinese spring roll, these cheese filled snacks are a favorite on the street, in bars, and restaurants. Although the origin of these pastries may be Chinese, it was Japanese immigrants after World War II that appropriated and sold them in bakeries.

Observing the preparation at a street market, the thin rectangular dough is cut by 6 inch increments, condiments are placed inside, and the dough is fold in half and crimped at the ends. It is then gently laid in a vat of hot oil for 30 seconds on each side. The resultant pastry contains pockets of air and is light and flaky. Just be careful on that first bite when all the steam and boiling cheese comes oozing out.

Fruit Juice (Sucos)

As the world's largest citrus producer, Brazil is full of fruits. Every bakery, seaside kiosk, bar, and restaurant offers freshly squeezed or blended sucos. Among my favorites are coconut, abacaxi com hortela (pineapple with mint), orange, and maracuja (passion fruit). That's not to say I don't also like papaya, melon, lemon, or mango.

Cafe Completo

Whether eaten for breakfast, afternoon coffee, or even dinner cafe completo is one of the most satisfying 'meals' offered. Consisting of espresso, toasted baguettes with jam, butter, or cheese, and cake or cookies the communal nature of this menu item follows with Brazilian sociability. I found that besides Brazil most South American cafes offer this delicacy.

2010-09-04  ::  admin

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